Gotham vs Thorns 5-30-21

Gotham FC Lose 0-5 in Portland, Struggle to Connect

Gotham FC dropped a tough road loss Saturday night versus the Portland Thorns FC, being routed viciously 0-5. After seeming to have found some sort of cohesiveness in their last game versus Racing Louisville, the NY/NJ squad was unable to put together meaningful connections on either side of the field in Providence Park. 

Portland entered the match third in the table, with a 4-1-6 record, sporting the best goal difference in the league with a strong plus 14. On the other end stood Gotham FC, who had just snapped a 3-game losing streak, but still stood at 8th place with a -6 goal difference, indicative of their defending and scoring troubles. Still without players Kristie Mewis, Midge Purce, Ifeoma Onumonu, and Estelle Johnson due to international competition, Gotham stuck with the same lineup that faced Louisville, swapping only Ali Krieger and Mandy Freeman’s positions. 

Disastrous First 15 Minutes

It couldn’t have been a worse start for Gotham FC. After keeping the ball patiently in the back, Portland sought to test the defense early, playing balls over the top towards their wingers on each flank. Earning a corner on the left side in this manner, Portland scored an early goal in the 5th minute due to poor marking that left Taylor Porter open to win the second ball right outside the 6-yard box, slotting it just past Caprice Dydasco.  

Then taking advantage of a disheveled Gotham FC, the Thorns collected a bad pass from Imani Dorsey at half field in the 7th minute, allowing Yazmeen Ryan to quickly attack the open space between Gotham’s midfield and defense lines. After cutting back in towards goal, Ryan found Olivia Moultrie lingering at the top of the penalty arc. Moultrie, acutely aware of her space and positioning, took just one touch to set up a powerful left-footed shot that rocketed past Ashlyn Harris and into goal, leaving Gotham in a 0-2 deficit in less than 10 minutes.

At least part of Gotham’s troubles seemed to stem from a disconnection and large space between the midfield and defense lines. Pressing high in a good effort to retrieve the ball in Portland’s half, Gotham was caught off guard by a long clearance that bypassed all three front lines and found Marissa Everett’s feet. Transitioning quickly, Portland found Morgan Weaver on the left side in a 1v1 with Dydasco. Finding space, Weaver served a dangerous cross on the floor across the six-yard box and tapped in by Everett.

Struggles Possessing in Offensive Half, Increasing Pressure

It was a difficult night for Gotham FC to connect past the half line. After being a step behind in every play so far, Gotham began to build possession and create some sort of momentum after the 20 minute mark. However, it was tough to find Dorsey and Dydasco on the flanks, a result of Portland’s incredibly disciplined defense that shut down the lanes quickly. In addition, a rush to move the ball forward quickly led to poor passes and unforced errors, which made it difficult for the Gotham team to create dangerous chances. 

One of Gotham’s best plays of the half came from the right side. After winning the ball in the middle of the field, Taylor Smith found Dydasco pushing forward on the right lane. Receiving the ball again, Smith then found Paige Monaghan checking in and immediately laid it off to Dydasco, who delivered a good cross, but was unable to connect with a teammate. Monaghan and Dydasco worked well together on the right side to move the ball forward, but were unable to find their midfield players to create dangerous chances.

Gotham’s only shot on goal in the entire game came in the 34th minute of the half. After Monaghan won a free kick on the right side of the box, the ball filtered around through McCall Zerboni and Dydasco before finding its way to Dorsey at the top of the box, who hit a zinger of a shot, forcing Bella Bixby to make a strong save.

Nothing in Favor of Gotham FC

The second half did not prove to be kinder to Gotham. Portland continued to attack well, with Ryan, Moultrie, and Weaver leading the charge. In an unlucky play in the 61st minute, Zerboni got cleated in the mouth and had to step off the field to stop the bleeding. Portland, who had already been taking advantage of different defensive gaps, quickly identified the 10-player disadvantage, and delivered a beautiful cross into the box for Hannah Betfort to head in, making it 0-4 hole for Gotham.

Eventually Portland sealed the game in the 80th minute. After misjudging a pass to Freeman, Harris delivered the ball into the path of Weaver, who took advantage of Harris being out of position and hit the ball into the net, making it 0-5.

Krieger Hits 150 Career Appearances, Team Looks Forward

In a silver lining, Krieger earned her 150th NWSL Career appearance. The two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion has played 890 minutes so far this season with Gotham and has been a solid block for the team on the defensive end.

In the post-game press conference, Head Coach Scott Parkinson admitted the team struggled to slow down Portland’s attack in the second half: “…it was just a matter of just try and get the next one…limit them a little bit, and try and push a little bit. And we weren’t able to do that.”

With time off before the next game, Parkinson and the team remain optimistic. “We have a week off now,” he said, “…time to reflect and come back freshened up, and ready to go for the back end of the season.”

Gotham are now 9th in the standings. They’ll face a tough Houston Dash team for the first time this season on Sunday, July 31st at home. With players returning from international duty, the team will look to turn around their season in hopes of finding footing in the playoffs.

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